How Should Albemarle Grow?

From Katherine Knott with the Daily Progress:

Please read the whole thing.

(bolding mine)

Some Albemarle County residents are torn about how the county should grow.

The county began surveying the community last month about seven proposed growth management options, part of the first phase of the county’s effort to update its comprehensive plan. The concepts range from reducing density in the county’s development areas to setting standards to help determine whether and how to expand a growth area.

Officials said 119 people have taken the survey, which closes at 10 p.m. Sunday. The responses, made public this week show stark divisions in the community. Other chances for citizen input will available to residents as the plan update moves along.

There are over 111,000 people in Albemarle County; please take a few minutes to read about the plan, its intent, its goals, and fill out the survey.

Take the survey here.

The first responses to the survey are interesting, some are disheartening, and unsurprising. (PDF here)

Here’s the thing.

We need more housing – nationally and locally, we have a massive housing shortage. More density. More infrastructure that is not auto-centric, and encourages people to get places without being forced into a car.

Albemarle (and the City of Charlottesville) are, and are becoming more unaffordable. We need to build affordable housing – much of which may be duplexes, triplexes, quads, apartments, etc so that people who want to live and work here can.

Think about your kids who you want to return to live nearby with their kids. Think about your parents who might need to move to be closer to you (and your kids). A lot of these may be (and probably should be) rentals – not everyone wants to own a home (I’m working on a story now for JimsNote in which I discuss how the “American Dream” of homeownership is not for everyone, and that’s just fine).

This survey will help Albemarle County government – Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors, et al – make a path forward for how we are going to grow, from 110K-ish now to 155K-ish in 2050.

Source: Cooper Center

Read even more at Sean Tubbs’ Charlottesville Community Engagement.

Even better, pay to subscribe to support his work. (I do; if you’re interested in a free one-year subscription, ask me; I’m happy to offer one.)

Albemarle County is in the first phase of a review of its Comprehensive Plan with an eye on a growth management policy. A second questionnaire on the policy closes on July 17, and Albemarle’s Communications and Public Engagement office produced an explanatory video. 

“The growth management policy is one of the tools that we use to implement the county’s vision by helping us to make intentional decisions about how and where we grow and what areas are protected,” states the narrator of the video.

The video states that one purpose of a growth management policy is to ensure that there are services for a growing population, including the provision of water and sewer services. 

“The majority of new residential, commercial, retail, office, industrial, and mixed-use development is intended to be within the county’s development areas,” the video continues. “The rural area is intended to have limited residential development.” 

Different community groups are also encouraging community members to fill out the survey.

The Forest Lakes Community Association reminded its members of the basic gist of the growth management policy. 

“Designated Development Areas currently comprise only five percent of Albemarle County while Rural Areas currently comprise 95 percent of the County,” reads the newsletter. “Yet we in Forest Lakes are seeing the developmental impacts more directly, since the limited Development Area includes the 29-Corridor to the west of Forest Lakes.” 

The Forest Lakes Community Association had argued against the nearby Brookhill and RST Residents developments, and points out there’s currently no public transportation in the area. 

“Roads are planned that will eventually connect both developments directly to Ashwood Boulevard, with estimates of up to a 50 percent increase in daily traffic utilizing the Forest Lakes South exit,” the newsletter continues

Former members of the Village of Rivanna Community Advisory Committee also want people to fill out the survey. The group quit en masse in April which you can read about on Information Charlottesville or on their Substack newsletter.

This spring, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors were presented with a build-out analysis to determine if there’s enough room in the existing development area to meet the needs of a growing population. 

Supervisors got an update on June 1, 2022 that I’ve yet to write about, but will before the end of the summer. You can watch the video of that meeting here, and let us know what happened!

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